NYSED is corrupt and provides cover for numerous corrupt school districts and, now, charters. Some time folks should compare NYS Comptroller audit reports with NYSED's various district monitoring reports, etc. We have a complete failure of an education governance situation here, and whether any particular school, district or charter (or private school, or state-approved private special ed. school) will get a bad report out of some NYSED staffer is totally dependant on the observed entity's political pull.
The examples you cite are appalling - but honest, there are ones just as bad for public school districts. In fact, a few years ago, the USDOE OIG audited one Long Island district - or tried to - and reported publicly that it was "unauditable.
Don't ask about what NYSED does when it gets a call stating that a public school district administrator is molesting a child. I did ... once ... at a professional conference on school molestation of students by adults, and the reply simply sickened me. If it was a charter administrator alleged to be doing the molesting ... result would be exactly the same.
Whatever NYSED exists for, it does not exist for the furtherance of NY children's educations. Not by a long shot.
Dee Alpert, Publisher
Leonie Haimson wrote:
Love this one:
For example, when State Education Department staff recommended the renewal of Western New York Maritime Charter School’s charter, the supporting memorandum praised the school’s new-found stability – an oblique reference to four principals, or commanders, in four years. The SED staff memo said the school had “faced and met many challenges” and had “learned from its experiences.” “The school has promptly and satisfactorily addressed any and all issues identified in its annual audits and by the Office of the State Comptroller,” the SED memo stated. “The School has implemented (and will continue to implement) strong fiscal monitoring procedures and internal controls.”
The State Education Department memo, however, did not reference the fact that the Erie County district attorney had filed criminal charges against management for misappropriating $95,000 from 2005 to 2007; that the school could not account for nearly $10,000 in federal grants; that the school’s parent-teacher group had complained that its funds had been stolen; and that charter management had hired an administrator with a criminal record.
Five months ago, the State Education Department recommended the renewal of the Niagara Charter School’s charter, despite a finding of “misallocation of funds.” The monitoring report, which was not made public, called the Niagara Charter School “a school in disarray” and noted, “There is, at the very least, the pervasive appearance of fiscal mismanagement and less than ethical behavior on part of the Board of Trustees and school administration.” Staff recommended and the Regents approved a three-year renewal of the Niagara Charter School’s charter. 
 SED staff memo to Board of Regents recommending charter renewal, December 8, 2008.
 Buffalo News, March 18, 2010
 Record made available by State Education Department upon specific request, following school’s renewal
 State Education Department, Comprehensive Monitoring Report, March 11-12, 2008
 Memorandum to EMSC Committee, December 4, 2009 and minutes of the January meeting, Board of Regents
The Race to the Top and its connection to class size
By Deborah Glick
For years we have been fighting for reduced class size for all students in the New York City schools. We’ve held rallies, demonstrations, wrote letters and had repeated meetings with various members of the Department of Education, including Chancellor Klein himself. In response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the state included capital funding to provide for physical expansion of school space to make it possible to reduce class size. Despite objections from the city administration, funding specifically for reduced class size was included in the State Education Department’s Contract for Excellence.
Nonetheless, class size continues to increase in those districts that have seen overcrowding, and while our determined advocacy has generated some new school seats, they have been entirely too few for the growing census of students. Now we have the spectacle of co-locations of charter schools in public school buildings. All this begs the question of how is it possible that there is so much extra school space available for charter schools, but not sufficient space for reduced class size and to reverse the elimination of cluster rooms and art and music rooms?
The tone deaf nature of the Department of Education is not anything new, but it still requires that communities and elected representatives stand up and fight for public education. The current focus on charter schools seems to absorb much more attention than the numbers of students in those schools warrant. Good government is about balance, and for the last several years that balance has not been in evidence in this approach.
Without entering into a full debate about the merits of the charter school movement, it is important to point out that the recent Race to the Top controversy revolves around eliminating a cap on charter schools, even though that aspect of the application from the state represents a very small portion of the scoring. The $700 million figure bandied about refers to a four-year commitment, which translates into a maximum of $175 million a year. Now that amount of money is nothing to sneeze at, but in the context of a $21 billion state education budget it is unlikely to cover all of the new required record keeping that attends the other parts of Race to the Top that was absent from the public debate.
What is most important to understand, however, is that the law currently allows any Board of Education in the state to convert any public school into a charter school with a majority vote of the parents of the children in that school. Schools Chancellor Klein expressly has that authority and has had it for a number of years. In fact, the chancellor has already converted five public schools into charter schools. So this notion that the law had to be changed to remove the cap on charter schools to allow for more improvement is a red herring. The cap only impacts those private organizations that seek to create new schools.
In the end, the mixed record on charter schools reflects the truism that there are some great schools, some terrible schools and mostly average schools. This applies to public schools as well. Our job is to look at the formula that we all know works: small class size, with a talented teacher and a complete range of subjects — including art, music, history and physical education, as well reading and math — results in a well-rounded student. This is the goal that we should continue to pursue. The limited focus on achieving only advancement in reading and math scores does a disservice to all students.
Glick is the assemblymember for the 66th District
It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on Tuesday many of them — and many others — walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.
The protest disrupted classroom routines and standardized testing in some of the state’s biggest and best-known school districts, offering a real-life civics lesson that unfolded on lawns, sidewalks, parking lots and football fields.
The mass walkouts were inspired by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old aspiring actress and a college freshman, and came a week after voters rejected 58 percent of school district budgets put to a vote across the state (not all districts have a direct budget vote).
“All I did was make a Facebook page,” said Ms. Lauto, who graduated last year from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, N.J. “Anyone who has an opinion could do that and have their opinion heard. I would love to see kids in high school step up and start their own protests and change things in their own way.”
At Columbia High School in Maplewood, that looked like 200 students marching around the building waving signs reading “We are the future” and “We love our teachers.”
In West Orange, a district that is considering laying off 84 employees, reducing busing, cutting back on music and art, and dropping sports teams, it was high school students rallying in the football stands.
At Montclair High School, it meant nearly half of the 1,900 students gathered outside the school in the morning, with some chanting, “No more budget cuts.”
In the largest showing, thousands of high school students in Newark marched past honking cars stuck in midday traffic to fill the steps of City Hall under the watchful gaze of dozens of police officers.
With their protests, the students sought to send a message to Gov. Christopher J. Christie, a Republican whose reductions in state aid to education had led many districts to cut staff and programs and to ask for larger-than-usual property tax increases. Mr. Christie, who has taken on the state’s largest teachers’ union in his efforts to close an $11 billion deficit, has proposed reducing direct aid to nearly 600 districts by an amount equal to up to 5 percent of each district’s operating budget.
“It feels like he is taking money from us, and we’re already poor,” said Johanna Pagan, 16, a sophomore at West Side High School in Newark, who feared her school would lose teachers and extracurricular programs because of the governor’s cuts. “The schools here have bad reputations, and we need aid and we need programs to develop.”
Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary, released a statement on Tuesday saying that students belonged in the classroom. “It is also our firm hope that the students were motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever,” Mr. Drewniak said, “and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey.”
Bret D. Schundler, the education commissioner, also urged schools to enforce attendance policies and not let students walk out of class. State education officials said they had a call from one district that had moved students taking standardized tests to another part of the building because of potential noise.
Not every school had students walk out. Nancy Dries, a spokeswoman for the top-ranked Millburn district, which has used surplus money to avoid major cuts, said it was “business as usual” there.
But in many other places, students came to school ready to make a political statement. Emma Wolin, a junior at Columbia High, walked out of second-period Spanish with several classmates, even though the school had warned that they would face detention.
“It’s the activities and school spirit that make Columbia a great school, and I want to keep it that way,” she said.
Judy Levy, a spokeswoman for the South Orange and Maplewood district, said that teachers did mark protesting students absent, and that some students went back and forth between the walkout and their classes, while others chose not to participate because their classes were reviewing for Advanced Placement exams that begin on Monday.
Ms. Lauto, whose message inspired the walkouts, said in an interview that she was amazed and gratified that so many students had responded. She said the state education cuts had really hit home because her mother and sister both work in public schools in Hudson County.
Ms. Lauto, enrolled at Pace University, said she has always had an activist streak. In seventh grade, she tried — but failed — to organize a protest over a new dress code, and after President George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, she wrote “Going to Canada, Be Back in 4 Years” on a T-shirt and wore it to class.
But until now, Ms. Lauto said, she has used Facebook only to keep in touch with friends and let them know when she is performing in shows. She alerted those 600 Facebook friends to her message calling for a student walkout and asked them to pass it on.
Within a week, Ms. Lauto received hundreds of responses, not all of them positive. In fact, so many students insulted her and said the walkout was a stupid idea that she disabled the message function on her Facebook page. On Tuesday, Ms. Lauto joined students who walked out of High Tech High School in Bergen County. She said she was not planning any more protests, but hoped that students learned that their voices could be heard.
“I made this page with the best of intentions,” she said. “The fact that it has become so wildly successful — I’m so overwhelmed.”
Nate Schweber contributed reporting from Newark, and Lois DeSocio from Maplewood.